Glossary

Abortive medications: medications used to interrupt or stop the attack of a severe migraine or headache as well as all symptoms (pain, sensitivity to light etc.).

Acupuncture: An ancient Chinese practice of inserting and manipulating fine needles into various points on the body to relieve pain or for therapeutic purposes. Acupuncture stimulates the body’s ability to resist or overcome illnesses and conditions by correcting energy imbalances. Acupuncture also prompts the body to produce chemicals that decrease or eliminate painful sensations.

Acute: sudden; occurs quickly and generally, without warning.

Acute headaches: headaches that occur suddenly for the first time with symptoms that subside after a relatively short period of time. They are usually due to an illness, infection, cold, or fever.

Adrenaline (epinephrine): the neurotransmitter of the adrenal gland that is secreted in moments of crisis. It stimulates the heart to beat faster and work harder, increases the flow of blood to the muscles, causes an increased alertness of mind, and produces other changes to prepare the body to meet an emergency. It is also a chemical messenger in the brain.

Analgesic: pain-relieving medication.

Analgesic-rebound headache: see rebound headache.

Aneurysm: a weak part of an artery that may bulge outward and occasionally rupture and bleed, leading to a condition called a subarachnoid hemorrhage which produces a severe headache and stiff neck, and can sometimes be fatal.

Anticonvulsant: a type of medication used to treat convulsive seizures, or epilepsy. Some of these types of medications are also used to prevent headaches, even when the headaches aren’t associated with seizures.

Antidepressant: a type of medication used primarily to treat depression. Some of these medications have been useful in treating headaches, even when headaches aren’t associated with depression.

Antiemetics: a class of medications used to treat nausea and/or vomiting.

Antihistamine: a drug that counteracts the action of histamine, an agent in the body that causes itching and flushing of the skin such as in an allergic reaction.

Anti-inflammatory: a type of medication used to decrease inflammation. This type of medication is most commonly used to treat the inflammation of arthritis and other inflammatory disorders, but can also be useful in reducing the pain of certain types of headaches.

Aspartame: an artificial sweetener that can cause a headache in some people.

Ataxia: impaired ability to coordinate movement. This symptom sometimes suggests a condition within the brain that may be causing headaches.

Aura: a warning sign that a migraine is about to begin. An aura usually occurs about 10 to 30 minutes before the onset of a migraine, although it can occur as early as the night before the onset. The most common auras are visual and include blurred or distorted vision; blind spots; or brightly colored, flashing or moving lights or lines. Other auras may include speech disturbances, motor weakness, or sensory changes. The duration of an aura varies, but it generally lasts less than 20 minutes.

Barbiturate: a type of medication that causes sedation and relaxation. Barbiturates may be found in combination abortive headache medications. If used more than two to three times per week, these medications can be habit-forming.

Basilar artery migraine: a migraine that is preceded by symptoms of dizziness, pain at the base of the skull with numbness, confusion, or loss of balance. These symptoms usually occur suddenly and can be associated with vision changes, the inability to speak properly, ringing in the ears, and vomiting. This type of migraine is bly related to hormonal changes and primarily affects young adult women.

Biofeedback: a method used to help a person learn stress-reduction skills by providing information about muscle tension, heart rate, and other vital signs as the person attempts to relax. It is used to learn total body relaxation and also to gain control over certain bodily functions that cause tension and physical pain.

Caffeine: a stimulating ingredient found in coffee, tea, chocolate, and cola beverages. Caffeine is also a common ingredient used in combination medications for relief of headaches.

CAT scan: see computed axial tomography

Chronic: Ongoing or occurring over an extended period of time. A chronic headache occurs at least every other day or 15 days per month for at least six months.

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS): a condition of incapacitating fatigue. It may be associated with migraines.

Chronic progressive headaches: see cluster headaches.

Chronic nonprogressive headaches: see tension headaches.

Classic migraine: another term for migraine with aura.

Cluster headaches: headaches that have a characteristic grouping of attacks. Cluster headaches occur one to three times per day during a cluster period, which may last two weeks to three months. Cluster headaches are the least common type of primary headache. These headaches are considered a vascular type of headache, like migraines. The pain of a cluster headache is generally very intense and severe.

Common migraine: another term for migraine without aura.

Computed axial tomography (CAT) scan: a diagnostic test in which X-rays and computers are used to produce an image of a cross-section of the body. A CT scan of the head may be recommended if you are getting daily or almost daily headaches. It can also be used to rule out other conditions that may contribute to headaches.

Confusional migraine: migraine associated with a temporary period of confusion often initiated by a minor head injury.

Cyclic vomiting: uncontrolled vomiting that occurs repeatedly over a certain period of time.

Double Blind Studies: an experimental procedure in which neither the subjects of the experiment nor the persons administering the experiment know the critical aspects of the experiment; a double-blind procedure is used to guard against both experimenter bias and placebo effects.

Electroencephalogram (EEG): a test in which the electrical signals of the brain are recorded. Electrical activity detected by electrodes, or sensors, placed on a person’s scalp are transmitted to a machine that records the activity.

Electromyograph (EMG): a test that measures the electrical activity in the muscles to determine the amount of muscle tension. Small, flat metal sensors, called electrodes, are attached to the skin (usually on the forehead.) The electrodes measure the electrical activity in the muscles directly underneath the electrodes and adjoining muscles. The electrical activity of the muscles will be measured and displayed as numbers or electrical waves on a screen that the person can view.

Encephalitis: inflammation of the brain, usually caused by bacteria or infection. Encephalitis is a serious cause of headache.

Endorphins: hormone-like substances produced in the brain that have pain-relieving properties. Some scientists believe that people who suffer from severe headaches have lower levels of endorphins than people who generally do not have headaches.

Episodic: occurrences that come and go with or without a regular pattern.

Feverfew: (Tanacetum parthenium ), a member of the sunflower family, has been used for centuries in European folk medicine as a remedy for headaches. Commonly recommended for its ability to support cerebrovascular tone, feverfew is rich in compounds known as sesquiterpene lactones. One of the more important of these compounds may be parthenolide, which represents 85% of the sesquiterpene lactone content in feverfew. Scientific studies have found parthenolide inhibits platelet aggregation and the release of serotonin from platelets and polymorphonuclear leukocyte granules.* It has also been shown to inhibit pro-inflammatory prostaglandin synthesis and the release of arachadonic acid. Each of these phenomena are associated with migraines.* European studies have shown the benefits of feverfew on long-term cerebrovasular tone.

Food additives: also called food preservatives. These are substances contained in certain foods that can trigger headaches. MSG, nitrates, or phenylethalamine are examples of food additives.

Guided imagery: see mental imagery relaxation.

Headache: a general term that refers to a persistent or lasting pain in the head region.

Head trauma: a physical injury to the head. Head trauma can sometimes lead to headaches.

Headache diary: a form used to record a person’s headache characteristics and triggers. This information will help your health care providers correctly treat your headaches.

Headache history: a description of your headache symptoms and characteristics as well as a description of previous treatments for headaches.

Hemiplegic migraine: temporary paralysis (hemiplegia) or sensory changes on one side of the body. The onset of the headache may be associated with temporary numbness or a stroke-like weakness on one side of the body, dizziness, or vision changes.

Hemorrhage: bleeding within the brain.

Hormone headache: a headache syndrome common in women that is often associated with changing estrogen (a hormone) levels that occur during menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause.

Hydrocephalus: abnormal build-up of fluid in the brain.

Idiopathic: not traceable to a direct cause; occurring spontaneously; of unknown cause.

Immune system: the body’s defense system or protective network designed to fend off invasion by harmful substances, including bacteria, viruses, and harmful chemicals, and to act as a surveillance system against the development of cancer.

Inflammation: a process in which the body’s white blood cells and chemicals can protect us from infection and foreign substances such as bacteria and viruses.

Lethargy: being indifferent, apathetic, or sluggish; also characterized by sleeping too much.

Lumbar puncture: also called a spinal tap, it is the removal of spinal fluid (called the cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF) from the spinal canal. The fluid is withdrawn through a needle and examined in a laboratory. This diagnostic procedure is only done to rule out conditions that may be affecting the brain and spinal cord. This test is used only if the symptoms warrant it. It can cause a headache for a few hours afterward.

Lyme disease: a disease, caused by a tick bite, that can affect many organs. Lyme disease can affect the nervous system and cause headache symptoms.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): a diagnostic test that produces very clear images of the human body without the use of X-rays. MRI may be recommended if you are getting daily or almost daily headaches. MRI may also be recommended if a CT scan does not show definitive results. In addition, a MRI scan is used to evaluate certain parts of the brain that are not as easily viewed with CT scans, such as the spine at the level of the neck and the back portion of the brain.

Magnesium: An essential mineral for human nutrition. with numerous effects that support cerebrovascular tone. These include: 1) inhibition of platelet aggregation;2) interference with synthesis, release, and action of inflammatory mediators;3) direct alterations of cerebrovascular tone; 4) inhibition of vasospasm; and 5) stabilization of cell membranes. Some migraine sufferers with poor cerebrovascular tone have been found to have low brain levels of magnesium. Recommended daily dosages of magnesium typically range from 200 to 600 mg to compensate for this deficiency — far above what’s found in most multi-vitaminsof headache treatment that involves rubbing, pinching, kneading, or otherwise manipulating the body to relieve muscular tension. Massage can be helpful in promoting relaxation.

Meningitis: an infection or inflammation of the membrane that covers the brain and spinal cord.

Menstrual migraine: see hormone headache.

Mental imagery relaxation: Also called guided imagery, it is a proven form of focused relaxation that helps create harmony between the mind and body. Guided imagery coaches you in creating calm, peaceful images in your mind — a “mental escape.”

Migraine: a vascular headache associated with changes in the size of the arteries within and outside of the brain. A migraine begins when hyperactive nerve cells send out impulses to the blood vessels, causing constriction, followed by the dilation of these vessels and the release of prostaglandins, serotonin, and other inflammatory substances that cause the pulsation to be painful. Migraine is a genetic disorder that is inherited. A migraine causes mild to severe pain and lasts from four hours up to a week. Migraines usually occur two to four times per month.

Migraineur: a person who has migraines.

Migrelief: The ffirst dietary supplement that assists in the nutritional status of migraine sufferers. Research shows that migraine frequency and duration can be related to nutritional status, among other factors. MigreLief provides a new, “Triple Therapy™” approach.

Mixed headache syndrome: a combination of migraine and tension headaches.

Monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors: a class of drugs used to treat depression. They also help treat headaches. People taking MAO inhibitors must be careful not to eat foods containing tyramine, as this can cause increased blood pressure.

Monosodium glutamate (MSG): a food additive commonly found in Asian food that may cause headaches in some people.

Narcotics: b prescription pain medications.

Nervous system: includes the peripheral nervous system and central nervous system. The peripheral nervous system includes a network of nerves throughout the body, handling everything from regulating the heart rate to flexing the hand or foot. It also receives information, much of which is sent to the brain. This information is analyzed and coordinated by the central nervous system. The central nervous system is made up of the spinal cord and brain.

Neurologist: a medical specialist with advanced training in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the brain, spinal cord, nerves, and muscles.

Neurology: the study of the nervous system.

Neuron: a nerve cell.

Neurotransmitter: a specialized chemical, produced in nerve cells, that permits the transmission of information between nerve cells.

Nitrite: a food additive that may trigger headaches for some people. Nitrites are commonly found in processed meats, such as bacon, pepperoni, hot dogs, ham, sausage, luncheon meats, and deli-style meats and other cured or processed meats. Some heart medications contain nitrates.

Ophthalmology evaluation: an eye exam performed by an eye doctor (ophthalmologist) which includes a pressure test to rule out glaucoma or pressure on the optic nerve as causes of headaches.

Ophthalmoplegic migraine: pain around the eye, including paralysis in the muscles surrounding the eye. This is an emergency medical condition, as the symptoms can be caused by pressure on the nerves behind the eye. Other symptoms of ophthalmoplegic migraines include a droopy eyelid, dilated pupil, double vision, or other vision changes.

Phonophobia: sensitivity to sound.

Photophobia: light sensitivity.

Placebo Effect: A placebo, as used in research, is an inactive substance or procedure used as a control in an experiment. The placebo effect is the measurable, observable, or felt improvement in health not attributable to an actual treatment.

Preventive medications: Drugs used to treat very frequent tension headaches and migraines, or the combination of both types of headaches to reduce both the frequency and severity of the headaches. Preventive medications are prescribed to take on a daily basis.

Primary headaches: headaches that are not the result of another medical condition. These include migraine, tension, and cluster headaches.

Puracol Feverfew: Feverfew has been safely used for centuries in Europe by migraine sufferers. Puracol Feverfew is a combination of a proprietary Feverfew extract PLUS a proprietary source of the whole herb. Puracol™ Feverfew is a trademarked brand of the herb Feverfew..

Rebound headaches: headache that occurs from over-using medications for headache pain. Exceeding labeling instructions or your doctor’s advice can cause you to “rebound” into another headache. This is especially dangerous when the drug contains caffeine, an ingredient included in many medications to speed up the reaction of the other ingredients.

Riboflavin: Riboflavin (vitamin B-2) is a precursor of flavin adenine dinucleotide(FAD). This coenzyme is an important component of the electron-transport chain. A deficiency of mitrochondrial energy reserves has been observed in some persons exhibiting poor cerebrovascular tone. This defect may theoretically be corrected by a compound such as riboflavin that improves the activity of the electron-transport chain.

Retinal migraine: temporary, partial, or complete loss of vision in one eye, along with a dull ache behind the eye that may spread to the rest of the head.

Secondary headaches: headaches that are the result of another medical condition. These include sinus and allergy-related headaches, as well as headaches that result from a head injury, trauma, or more serious condition, such as a tumor.

Sedative: medication that helps a person rest.

Seizures: an abnormal movement or behavior caused by unusual electrical activity in the brain.

Serotonin: a chemical messenger, called a neurotransmitter, involved in communicating the message to the brain to expand (dilate) or close (constrict) the blood vessels. When these blood vessels dilate and constrict, they stimulate nerves that carry pain-producing messages in the brain, leading to headache pain, particularly the pain of migraine. Serotonin is also responsible for controlling mood, attention, sleep, and pain.

Sinuses: air-filled cavities (spaces) located in your forehead, cheekbones, and behind the bridge of your nose. The sinuses produce a thin mucus that drains out of the channels of the nose. When a sinus becomes inflamed – usually as the result of an allergic reaction a tumor, or an infection – the inflammation will prevent the outflow of mucus and cause a pain similar to that of a headache.

Sinus headaches: headaches associated with a deep and constant pain in the cheekbones, forehead, or bridge of the nose. The pain often occurs with other symptoms, such as nasal drainage, facial swelling, fever, or feeling of “fullness” in the ears.

Status migrainosus: a rare and severe type of migraine that can last 72 hours or longer. The pain and nausea are so intense that people who have this type of headache must be hospitalized. Certain medications can cause this type migraine syndrome.

Stress: your reaction to any change that requires you to adjust or respond.

Symptomatic relief medications: drugs used to relieve symptoms associated with headaches, including the pain of a headache or the nausea and vomiting associated with migraine. These may include simple analgesics, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, antiemetics, or sedatives.

Tension-type headaches: the most common type of headaches among adults, thought to be caused by tightened muscles in the back of the neck and scalp. Tension-type headaches are usually triggered by some type of environmental or internal stress.

Toxin: a poisonous substance.

Transformed migraines: coexisting migraine and tension-type headache. Transformed migraines are chronic, daily headaches with a vascular quality.

Trauma: a physical injury.

Trigeminal nerve: the chief sensory nerve of the face.

Trigger: a factor that can set off a migraine in people who are predisposed to migraines. Some common triggers include emotional stress, sensitivity to specific chemicals and preservatives in foods, caffeine, changing weather conditions, changes in female hormones, tension, excessive fatigue, skipped meals, or changes in normal sleep patterns.

Tripple Therapy: A term referring to the supplement MigreLief which combines 3 dietary ingredients (riboflavin, magnesium and puracol feverfew, each of which has been listed by the American Acedemy of Neurology for migraine prevention. These three ingredients are believed to be bly associated with dietary issues linked to migraine sufferers.

Tumor: an abnormal mass of tissue that may be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

Tyramine: a substance found naturally in some foods, formed from the breakdown of protein as foods age. Generally, the longer a high-protein food ages the greater the tyramine content. Many aged cheeses, red wine, other alcoholic beverages, and some processed meats have been reported to be high in tyramine. Eating foods with tyramine can trigger migraines in some people. People taking MAO inhibitors must be careful not to eat foods containing tyramine, as this can cause increased blood pressure.

Vasoconstriction: a narrowing or closing (constriction) of a blood vessel.

Vasodilation: a swelling or opening (dilation) of a blood vessel.